Friday, July 12, 2013

Disaster meets History

Continuing with our following of the Calgary Floods, today we’re going to talk about ignoring the past.

Now, I’m really into history but I’ve gotta say, if people looked at history more closely and heeded it a bit better, a lot of modern disasters wouldn’t occur. Now, it’s easy to say. Unfortunately, a lot of historians are just academics and most people aren’t historians. Awkward, huh,

Apparently, where the floods occurred where generally flood plains, places where people knew the risks of flooding were greater. It’d happened in the past. Yet, for one reason or another, people ignore these warnings, say, ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’. Of course, all it does it turn into a game of Russian Roulette. And eventually somebody gets shot.

Now, it doesn’t always solve all the problems of the world, but do some research on what you’re heading into. It never hurts and, just possibly, you can see what didn’t work for somebody else in the past and change it so you don’t make a similar mistake.

After all, nothing’s more demeaning that getting screwed and then being told when you’re in hospital that you should’ve known because exactly the same thing happened thirty years earlier.

Talk to you next week,

Alex H.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Calgary Flood Volunteers

As some of you know, on the other side of my country, great tragedy has stuck. There’s a massive flood rushing through Calgary and the surrounding area, leaving ashes in its wake. So, in response, I’m going to write posts for several weeks talking about things we can learn from the flood.

But let’s start on a positive note.

As with many great disasters, the victims of the flood didn’t remain stranded for long. Volunteers and complete strangers weren’t among the wreckage, looking to help whenever possible.

Out of the goodness of their soul, people were helped and saved by others they knew nothing of. Says something about human nature, huh,

So, today’s a Pollyanna day. Sure, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but in your darkest times, people do help and will help. Sure, you don’t want to make yourself a victim, a helpless soul who needs that help. But when you need it, and we all need it sometime, others seem to come out of the bushes, like Angels from the clouds, and those people save us when we don’t save ourselves.

Feel glad that their are people like that. Be thankful.

After all, you might even be one of them.

Talk to you next week,

Alex H.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm Going Back to Bed

Once again, it’s Canada Day again at Graceland Ontario. But this year, we’re talking about something different than we have in the past.

I’ve heard Brian Tracy, the Canadian speaker, advocate for a “Sabbath” − a day of rest. You don’t do any work, you just take it easy.

Sounds counter-productive, huh?
But it’s not! When you take a day off, you’re winding yourself up like a toy car, getting ready to burst forward with new life. A day off here and there renews you like nothing else.

Canada’s only got a few holidays (less than most states in the U.S., more than the U.K.) so each day off is an important chance to relax and reconnect with friends and family.

In a world when smartphones connect us 24/7 and when we all have to work harder to maintain our business (or keep our jobs), it’s hard to be off the line. It’s hard to take some time to yourself, to balance.

But the hard truth is if you don’t make that time, you’re doing yourself more of a disservice than favour. You’re sanding yourself down. Not resting once in a while is unsustainable and will take huge tolls later on.

Days like Canada Day are our friends, the Sabbaths allowed us without using up too much sick-time, if we had any to start with.

They’re important, so use them wisely.

Happy Canada Day!

Alex H.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

A Very Special Woman


Let’s talk about something exceptional.

Today was the 200th commemoration of a very famous walk in Canadian history.

Laura Secord was a housewife. Her husband was a Captain in the militia until he suffered a wound fighting in the Battleof Queenston Heights. Now, he was in bed.

And, with American forces occupying Fort George and the Niagara Region, her house had U.S. soldiers billeted in it.

But, as the story goes, she heard American officers at dinner one night discussing their plans to surprise and defeat Anglo-Canadian forces. Someone had to warn them. Her husband? No, he was far too weak.

She had to go.

A simple choice: if she didn’t go, no one else would. If she didn’t put her life on the line, no one would warn the British.

So she, woman in early 19th century Canada, walked 32 km to warn British troops. Her shoes were worn through, but she got to Beaver Dams in time. Leuitenent James Fitzgibbon, commander of the Anglo-Canadian forces heard her out.

The next day, his men (comprised largely of Mohawk Warriors) surprised the American force, capturing about 500 men in what had been a low point of the war for the British.

Now, there’s been talk in the last 200 years that the Natives already knew of the American advance and that Secord’s walk was merely confirmation in their findings. It doesn’t matter. She, especially for a woman in the mindset of her time, did something fantastic.

She found important knowledge and, through her own initiative, took the actions necessary to save her country. You can’t beat that.

When we take the initiative in our lives, things change. All of a sudden, we’re putting in the work to walk 32km’s, we’re lifting lime stones. And we’re productive.

When we don’t take the initiative, we lose any chance to be special. After all, that means someone else did all the thinking before hand and we’re just following their instructions. They’ll take the credit, not us. And that’s not very rewarding.

However scary it is, use the knowledge you possess and have the initiative to take ACTION with it. Secord is now a Canadian legend with more than one school to her name.

Think where your initiative could take YOU!

Alex H.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Miracles Do Happen

Like to have your day lifted? Check this out:

I was reading Andy Summers’s - guitarist for the Police's - autobiography One Train Later when I came across the most amazing story.

Andy Summers met Robin Lane when he was in California. She was a musician and so was he but things didn’t work and within a couple years they were divorced. Meanwhile, he’d met someone else − Kate. At first, she was in a relationship and so was he so they couldn’t move forward. But they met again. With both their marriages deteriorated, they got married in 1973 and went to England for a new start.

But that was before Summers met Stewart Copeland and Sting, forming the Police in the late 70’s.

Much hardship later, Summers was in the divorce courts with Kate, his daughter, Layla, being taken away from him. Though she’d put up with a lot, Kate couldn’t take his career with The Police anymore. They were finished by 1981.

Summers lost the love of his life.

Or had he? After The Police broke up, Summers caught up with Kate again. Once more, there respective relationships had crumbled and they were both single. So, after four years of being divorced, Summers remarried Kate in 1985.

And they’ve been so ever since.

Sometimes when things finish, they really finish. They fall to pieces and it’s the end. But other times, things come back together, as if by magic.

When things go wrong for you, remember that it isn’t necessarily the end, that you’re not necessarily stuck forever. Things will get better, even what you thought was finished. A marriage, a deal, a job, they may all come ‘round again.

Nothing is for certain, good or bad.

Alex H.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

He Was Always There

Since it’s Father’s Day, I figured I’d keep in the spirit of things and write about one of my favourite quotes:

”When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
– Mark Twain

If we all lived perfect lives, we’d like to like ourselves. This means doing the things we want to do and saying the things we want to say. And being right… all the time.

But, clearly, things happen and this isn’t always possible. We want to do something but can only do it given a certain situation, like during the summers or after college.

Still, we like being in charge. And that’s when parents come in.

When you’re young, they tell you what to do − when to eat, what chores to do and what you should be doing for school. But, as you get older, YOU want to be the one making the decisions. Especially in our culture, you feel like you have a right to control the little things you actually CAN control.

And too often you look at your own family and criticize them, saying, “look, they’re such fools! I can live life better without them. Not listening to their advice is a good decision”.

Of course, is it? Sometimes. There are things they don’t know. If you’re from a blue collar family who’s trying to get you a white collar education, starting a business or going into theatre’s probably going to be looked down upon. Does it mean it’s wrong? No. Just, given your family’s experience and belief system, it’s wrong for them.

But there are things that your parents, Dad’s included, do know about. How to shave best, for example. Or what plants to stay away from when camping. Or even, once in a while, how to have a fun date with that girl you met on St. Patrick’s Day.

Simply because others have different viewpoints to us doesn’t mean they’re ignoramuses. Oftentimes there’s plenty we can learn from them. They just don’t know everything. And guess what? No one does.

In this age of broken families and divorces, I’m glad I still have my Dad and my parent’s marriage has endured. Whether your situation is the same or different, give your parents some slack, whatever your age.

After all, you owe them BIG TIME because, without them, there wouldn’t be a YOU!

Happy Father’s Day, guys!

Alex H.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting Up the Day After

There can’t be anything more annoying than having to work the day after. After what? It doesn’t matter. Could’ve been a wedding, a family get-together, a party, a show, a big meeting, a product launch, a Grand Opening, all that does is the nagging pain in your head and the desire to get more sleep.

But, when we concede to our desire to relax, we make a fatal mistake, break the antique dish. You’ll soon see what I mean…

After the retreat from Stoney Creek a week or so previous, the American forces met up with Major General Morgan Lewis’s reinforcements. But they didn’t have time to make use of them. British commander Captain Sir James Lucas Yeo of the Royal Navy started bombarding the American forces and, with the help of native allies and Canadian militiamen, pushed the Americans back to Fort George. Over 230 Americans were captured, injured or killed.

The big lesson from this is the Americans, who’d suffered a devastating and unnecessary defeat a week previous, nearly reassembled as if nothing had happened. Only the British follow-up really pushed them back.

Many times we get complacent after something works out. We say, “we did it! Hooray!” And though there’s nothing wrong with that, complacency is where we mess up.

When you’ve done something well, be like Captain Yeo. Follow up. You won’t want to; you’ll want to party and enjoying your success. But your victory will turn to a frustrating loss if you’re not careful. The art of getting things done is only bettered by the art of making sure they’re ACTUALLY done afterwards. Results and endings are all that people remember and, therefore, all that matter.